Reassuring The Mom

Reassuring The Mom

I’ve never been a dreamer. I’ve never been one to look far into the future and imagine things like my own wedding, having babies, retirement. Once I had a wedding and had babies, looking to the future didn’t get any better. In fact, it got worse. I’ve written before that while I was pregnant with Charlie, I dreamed of caskets. I never dreamed of first birthdays or graduations. Only very unhappy endings.

A side effect of losing a child is that you have a somewhat irrational fear of your living children being taken from you for any number of random reasons. Like dying from the same thing their brother died from. Like falling off their bike, not into the grass but into the road right as a car drives by. Like tripping down the stairs and breaking their necks. Like being bitten by a copperhead while mowing the grass. While eating popcorn at the movies. While … shall I go on?

I thought I was crazy. Until I realized I’m not. I’m grateful for friends who aren’t scared to tell me they feel the same way.

The thing is, this irrational (but very rational in my head) thought process doesn’t allow me to look into the future — the real one that is years or decades away. “The Future” to me is something that’s going to happen this week. I have a very hard time looking past my weekly view on my old school paper calendar. I just can’t plan any further out than that.

So imagine my surprise when all of a sudden, my elementary school-aged child was going to be going to middle school. Like, I looked up and he has teenager features and a tiny mustache forming and a voice that may or may not be changing a little. I woke up one day, late this summer and realized he’s growing up.

There was a middle school registration day on my calendar.

And after that, a 6th grade orientation day.

And after that, still shocking to me, the First Day of Middle School.

6th Grade - Peachtree Middle

I’ve worried myself sick since last Monday. About lockers and books and whether he was getting his meds at lunch. About what to pack for lunch. About whether he was remembering where to go for the 7 different classes he has. About everything.

Today, I emailed his group of teachers to ask a question about the 504 Plan he has to help him with a few ADHD issues. It was about homework — simple and to the point — and I thanked them for making the beginning of school a great experience. One of his teachers wrote back:

Teacher: Henry is awesome! For tonight he needs to study for his quiz tomorrow.

Me: Thank you! He adores your class and is enjoying it so far.

Teacher: He will prosper with us. He’s home.

I’d be lying if I told you that right then, reading his 7 word email response, I didn’t tear up and exhale like I haven’t in months.

Those simple words were all that were needed to reassure this mom that her baby was going to be just fine. Her baby, who isn’t a baby, was going to prosper and grow and become the young man he’s supposed to be. His teacher (all of them, I’m sure, but this one for darn sure) was going to make sure of it.

As for me? After exhaling 90% of the anxiety and nerves that I’ve been holding onto about middle school, I realized that I, too, would be ok. I’m going to prosper in this place in time. I’m home, too.

 

 

Some Things I Hate More Than Others.

Some Things I Hate More Than Others.

I dread exercise.

I basically despise healthy food.

I loathe what the scale reflects back at me when I step on it.

But more than any of that, I hate hate HATE how I look and how I feel in my own skin.

*Flashback to about 30 days ago*

When I look in the mirror, I don’t see the person I used to be OR the person I want to be. I see someone who has been comfortable just “being” and not someone who has a goal to work towards right now.

I was a dancer forever. I was thin with a great booty and fabulous boobs (sorry daddy). I was in shape and could contort my body all manner of ways. Then I hit college. And got married. And then I had babies. And life, and blah blah blah excuses blah blah blah.

After Charlie died, I was diagnosed with anxiety and PTSD, started taking an antidepressant and anxiety medication, and the baby weight just kinda stuck around. I didn’t care about anything, especially that. In fact, I jokingly called the extra 15 pounds I was carrying around “a souvenir.” The comfort food and dinners we ordered for delivery almost every night, combined with an overwhelming sadness made any desire to care about my looks just go away. I didn’t care about myself, just what I was missing with my son not here. 

And then you know what happens when you kept 15 pounds of souvenir baby weight from your first child and then you get pregnant again and gain 40 pounds? All of a sudden you are paralyzed by the extra weight you need to take off. Some came off naturally, and some from building a house and working outside in our new yard and then some? Some just stuck around. 

I became content and complacent and ok with where I was.

Four years ago, I woke up one morning, and like Forrest Gump, I started running. I was done being stuck. I was going to do something  My goal was to run a 5k and that very quickly turned into a goal of running a half marathon. I ran and ran and ran some more. 

I trained. I got fit (but not super fit). I felt amazing. And then I proceeded to run four half marathons and ten 10Ks and who knows how many 5Ks in four years. Hell, I even ran a 10K and a Half on 2 consecutive mornings. Something I never would have thought I could do. But I did it because I said I was going to do it. And maybe because I’m a little crazy.

GSC Finish

Then I quit. I quit running. I quit it all.

My knees hurt. My toes hurt. My arthritis was really bothering me. 

And then I got a divorce and became a single mom. The decision was mutual between us, but apparently, even if you KNOW that everything’s ok and happy and friendly, there’s still a sadness and grieving period that lingers over the newly divorced. 

And y’all, do you know how single moms (at least this one) eat? Well, ones who don’t want to cook two separate meals because their kid is a picky eater just suck it up and end up eating whatever junk is in the house. Or cereal. Or sometimes both. The easier the dinner, the better. And we all know that “easier” and “delicious” are slang for “pretty shitty for you.”

Ok. You can flashback to now. Flash forward. Whatever.

Anyway, now here I am. 40 and a half. Single, and ridiculously happy.

But I am so incredibly freaking uncomfortable in my own skin.

I’m pretty sure the last straw for me was somewhere around mid-April when I was ordering my Listen To Your Mother dress from eShakti and had to measure all over my body. When I saw the numbers that came back from a measuring tape, I literally cried because those numbers didn’t lie. I couldn’t fudge those numbers like I could the scale for things like “I’m wearing clothes” or “I’ve not pooped today” or any other reason to take 2 pounds off the number.

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That was when I realized how much weight I needed to lose. And how many inches needed to be gone. And how I really just wanted to feel more like myself inside my skin.

Here’s where I tell you my big secret: I don’t consider myself fat. I consider myself uncomfortable, a little fluffy, shapeless, and quite honestly, miserable. Now by some standards, I’m obese. By others, I’m still seen as normal. Whatever. It’s my body. I don’t like it.

I decided it was time to try something… anything. Just make a change.

Like they were reading my mind, I happened to receive an invitation to a take a VIP spin class at a new cycle joint in Dunwoody, CycleBar, and thought to myself, “Hmm. This is my chance to be like Jill Kargman on Odd Mom Out and all the UES women who sell their souls to the instructors at SoulCycle and beg to be yelled at and told to ‘man the eff up, warriors, so you can be thin and hot and sexxxxay’ and yes yes YES! I’m in!”

So I signed up for a free class.

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Well, my class just happened to be two days after I started the 21 Day Fix program my friend Sara told me about and sold me on. 21 Day Fix is a Beachbody program that basically tells you to “stop eating so damn much, girlfriend” and makes you exercise for a half hour each day. The first two workouts kicked my butt. Literally. My butt felt like it had been sno’nuff kicked by a zebra for hours on end.

So I saddled up at CycleBar for my class, alone and scared and so excited I could hardly stand it, but already unable to move from the 21 Day Fix workouts. I planned on sucking it up, going all in, and being the unicorn during the class so I could then going home to declare, “I LOVE EXERCISE!”

photo: WSJ

Jill Kargman, Odd Mom Out. Photo: WSJ

Only, ouch.

I was hungry and tired and so sore I couldn’t brush my teeth and I wanted my mommy. And then I realized, no. I don’t want my mommy. I want the body I had when I was 25 years old. So I did what any woman would do. I signed up for another class. And then another.

Now here I am. After completing a full 21 days of 21 Day Fix and 3 CycleBar classes, I can say that I am still not anywhere near my 25 year old body, but I’m down 5 full pounds and 17 inches (no, that is not a typo). If you feel like it, click HERE to see my before and after photos.

As far as cooking and eating right, while single, on 21 Day Fix? Well, I’ve started cooking my weekly meals on Sundays before Henry comes home and I’m ready for the week with lunches and dinners (for the most part). That gives me more time to spend with Henry during the week, to get in the daily workouts, and even hit the pool (because tan fat is better than pasty fat, right?) with the kid.

I still hate exercise and I still basically hate eating healthy because oh my gosh Krispy Kreme donuts are like little round bites of heaven and way better than a salad, but I love the direction this is going.

Because you know what? I hate feeling this way in my own skin WAY worse than I hate eating baked chicken and plain greek yogurt.

**Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links and a link to my personal Beachbody Coach site. If you have questions about Beachbody or 21 Day Fix, feel free to email me at janasthinkingplace@me.com.**

Books I’ve Devoured Lately

I haven’t read as much lately as I have the last few months, but I thought I’d share a few books I’ve LOVED lately.

(contains affiliate links to support my Starbucks habit)

Sometimes I Feel Like A Nut: Essays and Observations from an Odd Mom Out by Jill Kargman

Letters For Scarlet by Julie C Gardner

Guest List: A Novella by Julie C Gardner

The Happy Hour Choir by Sally Kilpatrick

Bittersweet Creek by Sally Kilpatrick

The Girl In The Well Is Me by Karen Rivers

 

Thirteen. 13. A Teen.

Thirteen. 13. A Teen.

Thirteen.

It feels as awkward rolling off my tongue as it actually is to be thirteen.

It’s hard to fathom, really, the possibility of Charlie being here and being thirteen. Waking up with scruffy hair on his head and a hint of facial hair. He would surely talk back to me with a cracking voice and when he might smile, the little boy in him would likely peek through every so often. He would have an attitude like he’s either king of the world or the most sullen teen who ever lived.

Lived. If only he’d lived.

CharlieBlue

Damn, there are so many things I would have — WE would have — done. All of us. Together.

If only…

If only the good didn’t die young. If only God didn’t take the best angels first. If only bad things didn’t happen to good people. If only we had prayed more, gotten him to the hospital sooner, been more vigilant, hoped more. If only we had waited one more day to let him go so we could have one more day of touching him. If only we had gotten a miracle. If only I knew why… If only. If only. IF ONLY.

Here we are, though, at another birthday. Another “trip around the sun” that will never actually happen. But he IS the sun. He IS the clouds. He IS the moon and the stars and the air that fills my lungs. He is everywhere.

Forever, he may not be here, but he’s everywhere.

Thank you, Charlie, for making me a Mom. For showing me that I’m stronger than I ever thought I could be. And please keep showing me daily that you’re always with me.

Happy 13th birthday, baby boy. 

I Love Me

 

Listen To Your Mother: Atlanta… Year Three

Listen To Your Mother: Atlanta… Year Three

Aaah… it’s Listen To Your Mother time!

We’re officially 5 days out from our third Listen To Your Mother Show here in Atlanta. This is it. All the work, sweat, tears, anxiety dreams… it all culminates on Saturday night at Marietta’s New Theatre In The Square.

Thirteen amazing cast members will be sharing their stories of motherhood. We held our final rehearsal yesterday and let me tell you something right now. You do NOT want to miss these stories. These women share hope, heartache, lessons, fears, and yes, even things you just don’t talk about in normal conversation.

FinalRehearsal2016

Miranda and I are so thrilled to have Zoë Barracano as our Media Sponsor and photographer. Once again, Lee at Firefly Loft has helped with our design work. And Layla Kelling, Arbonne Independent Consultant is a wonderful Friend of LTYM. We can’t put on our show without the help of our local sponsors. So thank you to these women… give them some love!

One of the most rewarding parts of Listen To Your Mother is the charitable segment. Did you know that each LTYM city chooses a local cause to support through ticket sales? Yes, they do. Ten percent of ticket sales goes directly into a local cause — typically one that helps mothers and children — and our casts fall in love with them.

This year, Miranda and I chose The Drake House, a wonderful organization that is helping women and their children get back on their feet after finding themselves homeless. It’s a growing problem in North Atlanta, which given the image North Atlanta has as being an affluent area, is shocking to most. You can read all about The Drake House on the LTYM: ATL site.

The only thing we are missing that will make this LTYM season complete is YOU.

We need YOU int he audience. Tickets are on sale and going fast. They will sell out, likely before Thursday or Friday. Please get yours now and come support this amazing cast of women!

Your life will be better for having heard their stories. That I can promise.

 Buy Them Here!

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